This is the sixth album from Sweden’s DUNGEN and as main man / producer / arranger / singer Gustav Ejstes almost reluctantly concedes, “….yes, perhaps it’s a summation of all the records.” Which perhaps then explains why it is difficult to slot this particular album neatly into any specific genre or category.
The one constant running through DUNGEN for the past ten years and five albums is ‘change’ itself as the band and its music have evolved to what we hear today. It’s no surprise really that ‘Skit I Allt’ then is an eclectic mix of dreamlike melodies, psychedelic fazes and light sprinklings of jazz.
It’s an interesting listen, I’ll give it that. Opening with the rumble of ‘surf guitar’ and very quickly overlaid with the willowy sound of a flute, ‘Vara Snabb’ immediately lays the ground-rules for the listener – expect the unexpected. This is a very relaxed opening to the album, as the sound rolls in and out, up and down like the lap of a gentle change in the tide. Nice, but maybe not the most exciting!
‘Min Enda Van’ starts out with piano and handclaps…. always a good sign. The vocals and flute join in. Again, pleasant but a bit too much of the ‘shoegaze’ feel coming through for me. You can’t knock it – there are many bands (mainly foreign, it has to be said) visiting my home town who play this kind of dreamy pop and their shows are always well attended / sold out.
‘Brallor’ however, picks up the pace and grabs my attention. The stomping beat and distorted, angry little guitar riffs contrast with the vocals that this time has female harmonies. ‘Soda’ washes over very pleasantly with the flute and guitar quietly laying out some little jazz lines in the background.
But now we come to the colossus that is ‘Hogdalstoppen.’ Undoubtedly the best track on the album, this is a real psychedelic freak out! Apparently, the songs on the album take inspiration from the surroundings around where they were created and ‘Hogdalstoppen’ is named after a massive junkyard near to Gustav’s flat. This is one song that will surely be a mainstay in the band’s live set. From a hushed piano beginning, it quietly shows signs of eruption with some fuzzed-up guitar and rolling drums. (Actually, the drumming throughout the album is pretty excellent, but at its most formidable on this track where Johan Holmegard seems to almost adopt the role of ‘lead’ drummer!) Anyway, with about two minutes of the four or so remaining, the noise drops briefly and the guitar becomes the focus of the track (it’s an instrumental) although Johan fights his corner very well. It soon fills with a cacophony of crashing cymbals and guitar feedback as it builds into a solid wall of noise.
I like this track… can you tell?
Title track ‘Skit I Allt’ (which loosely translated means ‘fuck it – just go do it!) has a beautiful summery feel to it. It’s a mid tempo song, not too ‘flowery’ and could adapt well to being used as the theme tune to some American TV series.
‘Barnan Undrar’ is again light and airy, before ‘Blandband’ has an almost Oriental feel about the piano playing. Then again, it sometimes feels there are Country influences at play. It’s even got the handclaps again. It’s an excellent combination of styles / influences.
Although the final two tracks tended to drift over me without leaving any lasting impression, I would say that this is an album well worth a listen. And ‘listen’ is what you would probably have to do. It really (politely and gently) commands you attention for maximum effect.
‘Skit I Allt,’ is probably not aimed at a listening audience as shallow and basic in their choice of music as this reviewer, however there’s no denying it’s pretty damn classy!
(Released through Subliminal Sounds on 20th September 2010)